Origin of "Eau de Naphé" {Perfume Words}

orange blossom.jpg

One of the two latest perfume launches by Comptoir Sud Pacifique, Eau de Naphé, resurrects an interesting exotic and slightly mysterious ancient perfume expression which in the 19th and 20th centuries means "orange blossom water". You will find the expression relatively more frequently as "eau de naffe"(e.g. Rabelais) and it actually, besides its more particular meaning, also has a more general one, that of an aromatized, perfumed water (18th c.).......

It comes from Arabic where "naffa" means a pleasant smell, a balmy air. It also appears in Italian, and in particular in the Tuscan usage, as "a(c)qua nanfa" or "lanfa". Perfumers themselves would use it with the meaning of orange blossom water.

Some authors such as Bocaccio in The Decameron, point to a distinction existing between "acqua nanfa" and orange blossom water and there are indications that the previous one might have been a lemon water, in some cases or areas at least.

The eau de naffe would be used for example to wash hands after a meal. An 18th century French source mentions the delightful custom for a time for town officials in Aix en Provence of offering 6 small flacons of "eau de naffe" decorated with red and yellow ribbons to each new mother. The eau de naffe appears often in religious texts as a symbol of bliss, purity, and as an element of heavenly surroundings.

Photo is by flowergirl2005 

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